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1964-1965 Challenge Cup Final

Wigan v Hunslet - 1965 Challenge Cup Final.
Saturday 8th May 1965. Kick Off 3:00pm at Wembley Stadium, London.

Seven years a go a small town club was on the verge of Super League. Hunslet Hawks beat Dewsbury Rams in the 1999 Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final but were "disgustingly denied entry to Super League by the RFL" as the South Leeds Stadium was deemed to not meet ground criteria.

A look at the current National League Two and you'll see Hunslet four from bottom of that league. Formed originally in 1883, they became the first club to win "All four Cups" in a season during 1907-1908, basically the Grand Slam of that era. They won the League Championship, Challenge Cup, County League and County Cup and at the time this was regarded as the holy grail for any team. Only Huddersfield and Swinton also achieved that feat, although Wigan in 1994-95 and Bradford in 2003 achieved modern equivalents.

At the time of the 1965 Cup Final Hunslet were big underdogs and not expected to give Wigan any problems having finished the season mid table.

Wigan though were also going through a lean period in their history. They hadn't won a trophy since winning the league in 1960, although they had just finished the league season in 2nd place behind St Helens. However in the first round of the Championship play offs they suffered an embarrassing 15-8 home defeat to Featherstone who had finished the season 15th (a top 16 play off operated in those days).

The Wigan team was full of legends though. The great Billy Boston's record of 478 tries in 488 Wigan appearances speaks for itself. Boston's three quarter partner was Eric Ashton, 14 years a Wigan player despite being from St Helens. He was also player-coach at the time of this final. Other legends in the side that day included Phil Clarke's dad Colin at Hooker and big prop Brian McTigue.

Matchday weather was great, sunny and warm. 89,016 made the trek down to Wembley for what would turn out to be a classic final.

It took Wigan less than a minute to take the lead. Hunslet's kick off had gone out on the full and Laurie Gilfedder kicked a penalty goal from half way to make it 2-0. Hunslet soon levelled up with a penalty of their own. Local Wigan lad Roy Evans was penalised for tackling off the ball and Bill Langton kicked over to make it 2-2.

Three minutes after Hunslet had controversially had a try chalked off for being in touch, Wigan took the lead. Hunslet had again failed to find touch from a penalty and Wigan made them pay. Pressure down the right from Gilfedder and Ray Ashby sent Keith Holden away for the score. It was three points for a try in those days so Wigan led 5-2. The sides exchanged penalties again, first Hunslet then Wigan, making it 7-4 with 30 minutes gone.

The South Leeds side was doing well to keep Billy Boston and Eric Ashton quiet but the other wing-centre partnership of Holden and Trevor Lake was proving more difficult. They combined for Wigan's second try with Lake finished off the move. Gilfedder converted to give Wigan a 12-4 lead which they hoped to take into half time.

Hunslet had other ideas and scored two minutes before the break. Half back Brian Gabbitas produced a bit of magic to send centre Geoff Shelton under the posts. Langton's conversion made it 12-9 at half time and all to play for.

Into the second half and Wigan scored work. Hard work up the middle from McTigue and Evans sent Gilfedder on the breakaway. He managed to evade two defenders to score in the corner and make it 17-9, with a brilliant touchline conversion from Ashton.

Wigan had a try disallowed for double movement before they scored the match winner on the hour. Full back Ray Ashby had the ball well inside his own half. He took on three defenders, beat them, and on half way he passed out wide to Lake. Lake raced away and just evaded a desperate tackle to score in the corner. Lake, born in Rhodesia, had finished off a classic cup final try. The conversion was missed but 20-9 up with 20 to play, the game looked won.

Hunslet though didn't give up. In the 65th minute they scored under the posts through John Griffiths and the conversion made it 20-14. A penalty with four minutes to go made it 20-16 and with them being well on top now, one converted try was all they needed to nick the win. Wigan managed to hang on and bring the trophy home for the 7th time.

Team Sheets

- Wigan Position Hunslet -
1 Ray Ashby Full Back Bill Langton 1
2 Billy Boston Winger John Griffiths 2
3 Eric Ashton Centre Geoff Shelton 3
4 Keith Holden Centre Alan Preece 4
5 Trevor Lake Winger Barry Lee 5
6 Cliff Hill Stand Off Brian Gabbitas 6
7 Frank Parr Scrum Half Alan Marchant 7
8 Danny Gardiner Prop Dennis Hartley 8
9 Colin Clarke Hooker Bernard Prior 9
10 Brian McTigue Prop Ken Eyre 10
11 Tony Stephens 2nd Row Bill Ramsey 11
12 Roy Evans 2nd Row Geoff Gunney 12
13 Laurie Gilfedder L.Forward Fred Ward 13
- - - - -
14 Kevin O'Loughlin Substitute Arthur Render 14
15 Geoff Lyon Substitute Billy Baldwinson 15

Score Sheet

Wigan 20 --- Hunslet 16
Tries (4):
Kevin Holden
Trevor Lake 2
Laurie Gilfedder
- Tries (2):
Geoff Shelton
John Griffiths
Laurie Gilfedder 3
Eric Ashton 1

Billy Langton 5

Scoring and Incident Pattern

1st Minute Wigan 02 Hunslet 00 Penalty Goal: Laurie Gilfedder
4th Minute Wigan 02 Hunslet 02 Penalty Goal: Billy Langton
16th Minute Wigan 05 Hunslet 02 Try: Kevin Holden
25th Minute Wigan 05 Hunslet 04 Penalty Goal: Billy Langton
30th Minute Wigan 07 Hunslet 04 Penalty Goal: Laurie Gilfedder
33rd Minute Wigan 10 Hunslet 04 Try: Trevor Lake
33rd Minute Wigan 12 Hunslet 04 Conversion: Laurie Gilfedder
38th Minute Wigan 12 Hunslet 07 Try: Geoff Shelton
38th Minute Wigan 12 Hunslet 09 Conversion: Billy Langton
Half Time Wigan 12 Hunslet 09
44th Minute Wigan 15 Hunslet 09 Try: Laurie Gilfedder
44th Minute Wigan 17 Hunslet 09 Conversion: Eric Ashton
59th Minute Wigan 20 Hunslet 09 Try: Trevor Lake
65th Minute Wigan 20 Hunslet 12 Try: John Griffiths
65th Minute Wigan 20 Hunslet 14 Conversion: Billy Langton
76th Minute Wigan 20 Hunslet 16 Penalty Goal: Billy Langton
Full Time Wigan 20 Hunslet 16

Other Information

Referee: Joe Manley (Warrington)
Attendance: 89,016
Weather: Sunny Warm Day.

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